Gathering momentum for a United Nations climate conference in Bali, Indonesia, in December where the successor to the Kyoto Protocol is expected to be born, the U.N. hosted a one-day climate conference at its headquarters in New York on Monday. The conference attracted 150 nations, about 80 of which sent at least their heads of state, making it the best-attended climate meeting in U.N. history among high-level officials. “This event has sent a powerful political signal to the world, and to the Bali conference, that there is the will and the determination at the highest level, to break with the past and act decisively,” said U.N. head Ban Ki-moon. “Our goal must be nothing short of a real breakthrough. Inaction now will prove the costliest action of all in the long term.” President Bush, who ditched out on the U.N. meetings but managed to show up for dinner, has scheduled a climate conference of his own in Washington, D.C., later this week that will bring together 16 of the world’s largest-emitting nations. However, since it’s being hosted by the binding-agreement-wary U.S., critics see little coming out of the meeting but voluntary actions and vague technology-sharing agreements. Oh, and probably press releases and goodie bags too.

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